Years ago, I started a tradition in which I created a “Soup Night” with my family. It began as a weekend activity in which my husband and daughter would carve intricately patterned pumpkins a week or so before Halloween. Because this was an activity that they enjoyed doing together, and were quite good at, I found myself in the kitchen making crock pots full of favorite fall soups and chowders. My love for being in the kitchen is year-round, and each season has a theme of its own. The Fall season is definitely filled with plenty of warming soups, stews, chilis and chowders to enjoy and also to freeze for upcoming chilly days. Year after year, I looked forward to my all day marathon event of making delicious soups, chili recipes and chowders to fill our tummies and the freezer. Here is one of my all-time favorite go-to soup recipes for the fall and winter.
Tuscan Lentil Soup is a hearty, nutritious soup that is especially delicious on cool nights. To make this soup spicier, use hot Italian sausage in place of the sweet. I prefer to use a healthier chicken Italian sausage, which still provides great flavor and more healthful benefits.
16 ounces dried brown lentils
3 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
1 ¼ pounds sweet Italian sausage, casing removed and formed into ½” balls
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups beef broth (I Prefer using Vegetable broth)
½ tsp. coarse sea salt
½ tsp. Fennel seed
Crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground pepper
1 ounce dry sherry
Rinse and sort through the lentils. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium. Add the sausage, vegetables and add garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender and the meatballs are browned on all sides. Add the lentils, broth and seasonings; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender and the soup thickens, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Add hot water in small amounts if the soup is too thick. Ladle into bowls and drizzle with sherry before serving. ENJOY!